Blazing Sermons – The Rise of Cowboy Churches

BBC World Service

Bandera, Texas, is the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World. It’s also home to Ridin’ The River Cowboy Fellowship, which was established 8 years ago with a mission to connect cowboys to Christ.

Located at the old “Bandera Downs” racetrack, the enormous church resembles a giant barn with concrete floors, corrugated walls, a modest wooden stage for sermons, simple seating area (dogs and horses welcome) and outdoor kitchen. Here they hold Sunday services, Wednesday night Bible studies, plus regular goat roping and barrel racing.

We join Pastor Jeff Bishop and his 500 strong congregation for their monthly “Chuckwagon breakfast” to find out why Cowboy churches are thriving. Here we meet professional working cowboys – ranchers, cowpokes, herders, rodeo riders – and fans of cowboy culture, who are drawn to this style of worship.

Ridin’ The River is a member of the American Federation of Cowboy Churches, a non-profit based in Waxahachie, TX which represents over 200 partner churches across 16 states. The first cowboy churches began to appear in the 1970’s but they’ve flourished in the last 15 years, despite a national decline in church membership, reaching more than 500 churches in the USA, with outposts in Mexico, Canada, Sweden, the Philippines, and Australia.

Produced by Victoria Ferran

Broadcast Date: 28th September 2019